CLINTON — Ethan Barry’s ascent to the No. 5 ranking on IAwrestle.com didn’t come overnight.
It’s been a year-long process that started by being upset in last year’s district wrestling tournament as a Clinton freshman. Now a sophomore, fresh off a Mississippi Athletic Conference championship at 195 and a spot on the first-team All-MAC list, Barry is keeping his focus on the little things in preparation for Saturday’s Class 3A district wrestling tournament.
“Last year, when I got beat out at districts, I knew right there that I had to change,” Barry said. “The offseason I went to wrestling camps and came up with a good workout schedule. I ran all the time and marked the day of the state tournament, and I knew I would be there. I just focus on it.”
While Barry is the lone River King ranked statewide, he’s not the one with the most tournament experience currently residing on the River Kings roster.
Senior Jess Chapman will enter the district tournament at Western Dubuque with two previous trips to the state wrestling tournament.
Chapman recently finished second at the MAC meet at 145 pounds and also was named second-team All-MAC.
“There’s definitely been a lot of focus and a little nervousness in the wrestling room (in the last two weeks),” Chapman said. “I’m a little nervous, too. It’s a big responsibility with this being the last year. It’s really emotional and there’s a lot of pressure put on you as a senior.”
That pressure has long been there for Chapman, but he sees a difference in confidence in himself compared to when he first made the state tournament.
“The experience kind of makes your mind more clear and better focused,” Chapman said. “It keeps me calm a little bit. My ability to staying calm has really changed a lot. And my confidence has changed a lot.”
That kind of confidence is what head coach Eric Lueders is hoping for out of all his wrestlers come Saturday.
The River Kings will travel to Epworth, Western Dubuque on Saturday for the chance to go to next week’s state wrestling tournament in Des Moines. In addition to Clinton, Waterloo East, Waterloo West, Pleasant Valley, North Scott, Linn-Mar, Western Dubuque and Cedar Falls will compete at the meet.
North Scott recently won the MAC wrestling title.
“We’re looking sharp and refreshed,” Lueders said. “They’ve had a couple days off. We’re tapering off, getting ready for districts. Mentally, we’re focused and the kids are ready.”
Clinton senior Ben Chapman is one of those ready to punch his first ticket to the state wrestling tournament. Chapman, a first-team All-MAC selection at 152 pounds, has yet to make the state tournament in the past, much in part to loaded districts.
Last season, Chapman finished third in his district, behind the Nos. 2 and 3 ranked wrestlers in Class 3A.
“I’m just working hard and pushing myself,” Ben Chapman said. “It’s my senior year, so I want to make it my best year. I want to give everything I have.”
The wrestling room has seen some the best wrestling of the season in the last few weeks, Lueders said.
He was impressed with the team’s final dual of the season and the performances at the MAC tournament.
“The kids have put themselves in good positions in districts,” Lueders said. “As a competitor, these are the days you look forward to. As a coaching staff, we will have to sit back and hope everything goes the way we planned on.”
News and Notes
Seeds and official pairings are not announced until the day of the tournament.
Clinton has four wrestlers on the roster with previous state tournament experience. Jess Chapman has made the state tournament twice, while Clem Butler, Isaac Larkin and Kyle Guilliams have one appearance.
“For the kid that has never been there, the unknown is hard to wrap your mind around,” Lueders said. “Kids that have been to that state meet, they know what they’re looking for.”
Chapmans eye state
Jess Chapman finished second at the MAC meet at 145. Chapman previously made it to the state tournament at 138 pounds. Collin Lewis, ranked eighth from North Scott, is the only ranked wrestler in his bracket.
Ben Chapman finished first in the MAC at 152, which featured North Scott and Pleasant Valley. Western Dubuque’s Ryker Kurimski is the only ranked wrestler in his weight class.
One of the more loaded districts at Western Dubuque will feature No. 5 Barry in a bracket with No. 1 Tyrell Gordon, of Waterloo East.
“Ethan Barry has been lights out all year,” Lueders said. “That’s one of the more competitive brackets, but Ethan’s work over the season shows he’s one of the top guys in the state.”
Only one weight class has more than one ranked wrestler (see above). And no team is ranked in the top-10 in tournament rankings by IAwrestle.com.
“If we wrestle well, we can do well,” Lueders said.
Lueders indicated that senior Dawson Troxel was one of a handful of wrestlers peaking at the right time.
“Dawson is really hitting the stride you are wanting to see at this time of year, and he has a favorable district,” Lueders said.
Troxel earned honorable mention All-MAC at 220. No. 6 Zach Petersen, of North Scott, is the lone ranked wrestler in his bracket at this weekend’s district meet.